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Restoring a 1959 Craftsman Lathe

Feb 3, 2021

1959 Craftsman Wood Lathe No. 103.23881

We knew we wanted a wood lathe for the DIYcave, but none of us had researched them enough to know exactly what we wanted. That’s when I came across this one, basically in a box.

And I figured it was worth putting a little time into to get us started. It looked to be in fair shape, so I pulled it apart and started cleaning it up. The paint wasn’t in great shape so I gave it a couple coats of some “old Ford blue” engine paint and cleaned up all the little pieces in parts cleaner. That old chrome sure is tough and looked nice with just a light rub down. It took a little sanding and wire brushing to smooth out the bit of oxidation that had accumulated over the years. Everything went back together nicely and I decided it was worth building a base for.

I figured a lathe that had been around this long deserves a decent board to mount it to, so I dug out some old quarter sawn fir window frames I had saved and laminated a couple together. Then I built an angle iron frame to stand it on with a spot to put a drawer (when Dave teaches me to build a decent one) and a shelf below.

Finally got it all mounted and plugged her in but she spun backwards (always something). The Craftman all purpose motor, that looks original, can be reversed by switching a couple wires. And finally Aaron and I got a chance to put a gouge to a 4×4 and make it round. We’re focusing on setting up the rest of the shop and haven’t found the time to play around much more on it, but the ideas are starting to take shape.

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